The U18 Victoria Thunderbolts suffered a 30-18 defeat at the hands of the Manly Sea Eagles at Casey Fields on Saturday.
The season opener was a game of two halves, with the Victorian side returning to the pitch firing on all cylinders after a scoreless first half.
But a commanding early lead and late tries to Pepe-Jonah Palota-Kopa and Siua Fotu saw the Sea Eagles clinch the game.
Manly were fast out of the blocks, with two tries to Schuster and Tuipulotu within the first 15 minutes of the match.
Fotu and Kaeo Weekes found the tryline within minutes of each other and with accurate conversions from Jack Birt the Sea Eagles were out to a 20-point lead before the break.
Jay Natapu was first to make an impact on the scoreboard for the Thunderbolts and tries from Sione Finau and Tui Ieremia in quick succession narrowed the margin to eight points.
Palota-Kopa stretched the Sea Eagles lead to 12 at the 58-minute mark and the game was almost won.
Manly responded to a late try from Thunderbolts’ Dean Ieremia with a second try from Fotu in the final minute of the game.
Thunderbolts will look to record the first win of the season against the Central Coast Roosters in round two, with Central Coast travelling to Melbourne following a 16-10 loss to the Parramatta Eels.
Kick-off 2pm at Casey Fields.
Victoria Thunderbolts 18
Tries: Jay Natapu, Sione Finau, Tui Ieremia, Dean Ieremia
Goals: Pita-Will Purcell
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 30
Tries: Josh Schuster, Uluaki Tuipulotu, Siua Fotu 2, Kaeo Weekes, Pepe-Jonah Palota-Kopa
Goals: Jack Birt 3